Albert Russo: “Dramatis Personae”

Photographers Unknown, The Parts and Pieces Making a Whole: Set Twelve

They call me Gianni
They call me Jim
But also Dominic
In both genders
In every guise

Whether it be Gianni, Jim or Dominic
In the present tense as in the past
First or third person
We’re talking of the same person
With the difference that each one
Speaks in another tongue
Confounding strangers
Claims the spiteful gossip

At time Gianni and Jim will be one and the same
At times they will oppose each other
Sometimes they might act as total strangers
And so it goes for both Dominics

The distance between them may be paper thin
Or else wide as the ocean
That which separates two languages
Or lies, mute, within the blood cells

Albert Russo, Dramatis Personae, The Crowded World of Solitude, Vol. 2

Born in February, 1943, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Albert Russo is a poet, short story writer, novelist and photographer. The son of a British mother and an Italian Sephardic father, he attended the high school in Bujumbura, a coastal city in Burundi, where he mastered four languages: French, English, Dutch, German, and vernacular Swahili. Russo earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration at New York University in 1964  He traveled to Heidelberg in 1965, where he earned a degree in German culture and literature at the Collegium Palatinum. 

Russo first began writing poems in English in 1964 during his years at New York University. In 1965, he settled in Milan, Italy, where he  worked at the family firm and continued his writing. His first novel entitled “La Pointe du Diable”, written in French, was published in 1973 in Brussels. For this work, Russo won the Prix Colette in Cannes and the Prix de la Liberté in Paris. 

In 1975, Albert Russo returned to New York for three years. During this period, he taught language classes and published several poems and short stories in a variety of international magazines, including The Literary Review, Culture Française, La Libre Belgique, and Revue Zaire. Russo also worked with UNICEF translating scripts for children’s documentary films. He returned to Europe in 1978  and settled in Paris. 

Albert Russo has written more than twenty-five works, translated into twelve languages. His main themes are the defense of individual and collective rights, including ethnic, gender and religious, and the fight against racism. Many of his works are centered around life in Africa; two of which are“Mixed Blood” and “Eclipse over Lake Tanganyika”, both published in 2000. Russo wrote a large two-volume series entitled “The Crowded World of Solitude”, the first volume which includes short stories, essays, and fables: the second volume contains forty year collection of poems. 

During the 1980s, through their common Congolese experience and love for Africa, Russo met and befriended Italian artist and philosopher Joseph Pace. Later in the 2999s, he became friends with poet and photographer Adam Donaldson Powell. Together they authored the 2009 “Gaytude”, a volume of poetry, with photographs by Russo, which dealt with the gay experience of life on five continents.

As a professional photographer, Albert Russo has earned several prizes, including winning a National Indie-Excellence award and a silver medal from a Gallery Photografica competition. His photographic work has been shown at Switzerland’s Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne. In 2019, Russo won a UNICEF Award for his poetry oeuvre and, in 2020, an Artavita Certificate for his photography.

Friedrich Dürrenmatt: “What Will the Future Bring?”

Photographers Unknown, What Will the Future Bring?

“What is going to happen? What will the future bring? I do not know, I have no presentiment. When a spider flings itself from a fixed point down into its consequences, it continually sees before it an empty space in which it can find no foothold, however much it stretches. So it is with me; before me is continually an empty space, and I am propelled by a consequence that lies behind me. This life is turned around and dreadful, not to be endured.” 

–Friedrich Dürrenmatt, The Assignment: or, On the Oberving of the Observer of the Observers

Born in Konolfingen, Switzerland, in 1921, Friedrich Dürrenmatt was an author and dramatist who was a proponent of epic theater, a form of dramatic, political plays staged through documentary effects and audience interaction.  After studies in philosophy and German literature, he stopped his academic career in 1943 to become an author and dramatist. He became one of the more prolific writers in the German language on the crisis of the nuclear bomb and arms race.

Written when he was twenty-six,  Dürrenmatt’s first play. the 1946 “It is Written”, revolves around a battle, occurring in a city under siege, between a religious fanatic who takes scripture literally and a cynic who craves sensation. The play’s 1947 premiere resulted in fights and protests in the audience.  Between 1948 and 1949, Dürrenmatt wrote several sketches for Zürich’s anti-Nazi Cabaret Cornichon, a Swiss cabaret company opposed to fascism and Nazism. 

Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s first major success was the 1950 play “Romulus the Great”, an exploration of the last days of the Roman Empire presided over by Romulus, its last emperor. In the same year, he published a novel entitled “The Judge and His Hangman”.  Dürrenmatt’s 1956 play “Der Besuch der Alten Dame (The visit of the Old Woman)” was a strange fusion of comedy and drama about a wealthy woman who offers a fortune to the people of her hometown if they would kill the man who jilted her years earlier.

During his youth, Dürrenmatt hesitated for a long time between a career as a writer and a painter. Although he chose writing, he continued to paint and draw, which he considered his passion. Dürrenmatt had some exhiibitons of his work in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, in 1976 and 1985; he also had a show in Zürich in 1978. A permanent exhibition of his collective work, both artistic and literary, is on display at the Centre Dürrenmatt in Neuchâtel.

Throughout four decades, Dürrenmatt produced novels, novellas, radio plays, and theater performances. Among these were the radio plays “Incident at Twilight” in 1952 and “The Mission of the Vega” in 1954, the novella “The Pledge: Requiem for the Detective Novel”in 1948, and the 1962 play “The Physicists: A Comedy in Two Acts” which dealt with scientific ethics and mankind’s intellectual responsibilities. 

In 1990, Friedrich Dürrenmatt gave two famous speeches, the first in honor of Václav Havel, the Czech statesman and former dissident, and the second in honor of Mikhail Gorbachev, who moved his country to more social democracy and promoted the policy of glasnot, or openness. Later that year, on December 14th, Friedrich Dürrenmatt died from heart failure in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

Middle Insert Image: Frederich Dürrenmatt, “Minotaurus. Eine Ballade VII”, 1984 – 85, Ink on Paper, 40 × 30 cm,  Centre Dürrenmat Neuchâtel

Bottom Insert Image: Sabine Gisiger, “Friedrich Dürrenmatt”, from Gisiger’s  2016 documentary film “Dürrenmatt: Eine Liebesgeschichte”

Yukio Miishima: “Someone, Somewhere, Had Tied Up the Darkness”

Photographers Unknown, Someone, Somewhere, Had Tied Up the Darkness

“Someone, somewhere, had tied up the darkness, he thought as he went: the bag of darkness had been tied at the mouth, enclosing within it a host of smaller bags. The stars were tiny, almost imperceptible perforations; otherwise, there wasn’t a single hole through which light could pass.

The darkness in which he walked immersed was gradually pervading him. His own footfall was utterly remote, his presence barely rippled the air. His being had been compressed to the utmost – to the point where it had no need to forge a path for itself through the night, but could weave its way through the gaps between the particles of which the darkness was composed.” 

—Yukio Mishima, Acts of Worship: Seven Stories

When Yukio Mishima committed ritual suicide in November 1970, he was only forty-five. He had written over thirty novels, eighteen plays, and twenty volumes of short stories. During Mishima’s lifetime, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize three times and had seen almost all of his major novels appear in English. 

While the flamboyance of Yukio Mishima’s life and the apparent fanaticism of his death, through the ritual rite of seppuku,  have dominated the public’s perception of his achievement, Japanese and Western critics alike are in agreement that Mishima’s literary gifts were prodigious.

A short biography of Yukio Mishima can be found on this site. For a more extensive biography on Yukio Mishima: https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20201124-yukio-mishima-the-strange-tale-of-japans-infamous-novelist

Yukio Mishima: “The Dark Nectar in the Little Room”

Photographer Unknown, (The Dark Nectar in the Little Room)

“Suddenly the full long wail of a ship’s horn surged through the open window and flooded the dim room – a cry of boundless, dark, demanding grief; pitch-black and glabrous as a whale’s back and burdened with all the passions of the tides, the memory of voyages beyond counting, the joys, the humiliations: the sea was screaming. Full of the glitter and the frenzy of night, the horn thundered in, conveying from the distant offing, from the dead center of the sea, a thirst for the dark nectar in the little room.” 

Yukio Mishima, The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea

Born in January of 1925, Yukio Mishima, pseudonym Hiraoka Kimitake, was an author, poet, playwright, actor, model and director. He is widely considered to be one of the most important Japanese writers of the twentieth century. 

Having failed physically to qualify for military service, Mishima worked for a Toyota factory, and after World War II, he studied law at the University of Tokyo. His first novel, “Kamen no Kokuhaku (Confessions of a Mask)” is a partly autobiographical work that describes with exceptional brilliance a young gay man who must mask his sexual preferences from the Imperial Japanese society around him. This work brought Mishima immediate acclaim, after which he devoted his full energies to writing.

Mishima followed up his success with several novels whose main characters are tormented with either psychological or physical problems, or obsessed with unattainable goals. Among these works are: “Ai no Kawaki (Thirst for Love)” published in 1950 and “Kinjiki (Forbidden Colors)” published in 1954. In addition to novels, essays, and short stories, Mishima wrote plays of Japanese Nõ drama which included “Kindai Nõgaku Shu (Five Modern Nõh Plays)” in 1956 and “Sado Kõshaku Fujin (Madame de Sade)” in 1965.

Yukio Mishima’s “The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea” was published in Japan in 1963 and translated into English by writer and scholar John Nathan in 1965. The novel explores the vicious nature of youth that is sometimes mistaken for innocence. The protagonist Noboru, a thirteen year old boy, is thrilled when a his widowed mother is romanced by a sailor, who Noboru idolizes as a rugged heroic man of the sea. When the sailor gives up life onboard the ship for marriage, rejecting what Noboru holds sacred, Noboru and his friends respond with violence.

Mishima was deeply attracted to the austere patriotism and martial spirit of Japan’s past, which he contrasted unfavorably to the materialistic Westernized people and the prosperous society of Japan in the postwar era. On November 25, 1970, after having that day delivered the final installment of his work “The Sea of Fertility” to his publisher, Mishima and four of his students, Shield Society followers, seized control of the commanding general’s office at a military headquarters near downtown Tokyo.

After giving a ten minute speech from a balcony to assembled servicemen below and getting an unsympathetic response, Mishima committed seppuku in the traditional manner, disemboweling himself with his blade, followed by decapitation at the hands of a follower. 

Notes: Photographer Eikoh Hosoe took the insert photograph of Yukio Mishima. The link that follows is a talk Hosoe gave at a Twentieth Masters Tribute to Yukio Mishima:  https://americansuburbx.com/2010/06/eikoh-hosoe-subject-matter.html

For a more extensive biography on Yukio Mishima: https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20201124-yukio-mishima-the-strange-tale-of-japans-infamous-novelist

 

Frank O’Hara: “We are Flesh and Breathe”

Photographer Unknown, We are Flesh and Breathe

“When I am feeling depressed and anxious and sullen

all you have to do is take your clothes off

and all is wiped away revealing life’s tenderness

that we are flesh and breathe and are near us

as you are really as you are I become as I

really am alive and knowing vaguely what is

and what is important to me above the intrusions

of incident and accidental relationships

which have nothing to do with my life

when I am in your presence I feel life is strong

and will defeat all its enemies and all of mine

and all of yours and yours in you and mine in me

sick logic and feeble reasoning are cured

by the perfect symmetry of your arms and legs

spread out making an eternal circle together

creating a golden pillar beside the Atlantic

the faint line of hair dividing your torso

gives my mind rest and emotions their release

into the infinite air where since once we are

together we always will be in this life come what may”

—Frank O’Hara, Poem (A la Recherche d’Gertrude Stein), 1959

Born on March 27, 1926 in Baltimore, Maryland, Francis Russell O’Hara was an American poet, writer, and art critic. He spent his youth in Grafton, Massachusetts, and studied piano at the New England Conservatory in Boston from 1941 to 1944. In service during World War II, O’Hara was stationed as a sonar man on the destroyer USS Nicholas in the South Pacific.

When education funding became available to veterans, Frank O’Hara attended Harvard University. Despite his love of music and expertise on the piano, he switched his major to English and graduated with a degree from Harvard in 1959. While at Harvard O’Hara met poet and art critic John Ashbery and began publishing his own poems in the Harvard Advocate, the art and literary magazine of the college.

O’Hara did his graduate work at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, winning a major scholarship, the Hopwood Award, given to aspiring writers. After a failed attempt at a novel, he wrote ninety poems in a few months and two plays. O’Hara received his MA in English Literature in 1951 and moved in September of that year to New York City with Joe Lesueur, who was his roommate and sometime lover for the next eleven years. Settled in New York City, he continued to write seriously while employed at the Museum of Modern Art, where he became an assistant curator.

O’Hara’s early poetic work was considered both provocative and provoking. In 1952, his first volume of poetry, “A City Winter, and Other Poems”, with drawings by artist Larry Rivers, attracted favorable attention. O’Hara also wrote essays on painting and sculpture, and reviews for the magazine ArtNews which were considered brilliant.

Frank O’Hara’s association with painters Larry Rivers, Jackson Pollock, and Jasper Johns, leaders of the New York School group of writers and artists, became a source of inspiration for his highly original poetry..O’Hara attempted to produce with words the effects these artists had created on canvas. In certain instances, he collaborated with the painters to make “poem-paintings,” paintings with word texts.

In the summer of 1959, Frank O’Hara met Canadian ballet dancer Vincent Warren, often described as the true love of O’Hara’s life. Appearing in O’Hara’s poetry, Warren became the subject of O’Hara’s best love poems, including “Poem (A la Recherche d’Gertrude Stein)”, “Les Luths”, “Poem (So Many Echos in My Head)”, and “Having a Coke With You”. Many of these poems to Warren are collected in the volume “Love Poems (A Tentative Title)”, published in 1965.

Frank O’Hara’s poetry is basically autographical, based more on his observations of life rather than the exploration of his past. An urban poet, he constantly wrote during his daily routine, recording his thoughts for later use or sending them off in letters. O’Hara was known to treat poetry as something to be done in the moment with a frank directness that often erased the line between public and private. Influenced by Puerto Rican-American poet William Carlos Williams, he also used everyday language and simple statements, split at intervals, in the form of staccato.

In the early morning of July 24, 1966, Frank O’Hara was struck by a jeep on the beach of Fire Island, New York. He died the next day of a ruptured liver, at the age of forty. O’Hara was buried in Green River Cemetery on Long Island. Painter Larry Rivers, along with poet Bill Berkson, art critic Edwin Denby, and René d’Hamoncourt, Director of the Museum of Modern Art, delivered eulogies. His long-time lover Vincent Warren, devastated by the loss, returned to Canada and became a celebrated dancer and dance historian, passing away in October of 2017.

Note: More extensive information on Frank O’Hara’s life and work can be found at the Poetry Foundation located at: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/search?query=frank+o%27hara

Mark Helprin: “Winter’s Tale”

Photographer Unknown, Winter’s Tale

“Winter then in its early and clear stages, was a purifying engine that ran unhindered over city and country, alerting the stars to sparkle violently and shower their silver light into the arms of bare up-reaching trees. It was a mad and beautiful thing that scoured raw the souls of animals and man, driving them before it until they loved to run..” 

—Mark Helprin, Winter’s Tale

The Twilights Linger

Photographers Unknown, The Twilights Linger

“That country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay. That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain.” 

—-Ray Bradbury

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: “Wandrers Nachtlied”

Photographers Unknown, Fleeting Episodes

“As we walk through life, fleeting emotional episodes may keep on twinkling, curl up in the hive of our recollection and enrich our imagination. In the same vein, aesthetic allurement and poetic gracefulness may possess us, besiege our mind, light up our thinking and shape our future. ( “Über allen Gipfeln ist Ruh”)” 

—-Erik Pevemagle

“Wandrers Nachtlied (Wanderer’s Nightsong)” is the title of two famous poems written by German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. 

The manuscript of the first, “Der du von dem Himmel bist”, was among Goethe’s letters sent in February of 1776 to his friend Charlotte von Stein. The second poem, “Uber allen Gipfein”, is often considered the most perfect lyric in the German language. It is believed, according to a letter sent to Charlotte von Stein, that Goeth wrote it on the evening of September 6th in 1780, while spending the night in a gamekeeper lodge at the top of Kickelhahn Mountain on the edge of the Central Thuringian Forest.

German poet and translator Karl Ludwig von Knebel, a friend of Wolfgang von Goethe, mentions the “Uber allen Gipfein” manuscript in his diary; and the manuscript was documented by other friends, Johann Herder and Louise von Göchhausen. This manuscript was later published in 1800 and 1803, without authorization, by writer and publicist August von Hennings. An English version of “Uber allen Gipfein” appeared in London’s “Monthly Magazine”  in February of 1801. 

These two poems were first published together in Goethe’s 1815 “Works Volume One” under the headings “Wandrers Nachtlied” and “Ein Gleiches (Another One)”. Both works were set to classical music by Austrian composer Franz Schubert: the first “D 224”, published in 1821 as “Op. 4 No. 1” and the second “D 768”, published in 1822 as “Op. 96 No. 3”.

“Über allen Gipfein ist Ruh, In allen Wipfein Spürest du Kaum einen Hauch; Die Vögelein schweigen im Walde. Warte nur, balde Ruhest du auch.”

-Wolfgang von Goethe

“O’er all the hilltops is quiet now, in all the treetops hearest thou hardly a breath; The birds are asleep in the trees. Wait, soon like these thou too shalt rest.”

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Brian Catling: “Gravity Filled the Moment”

Photographers Unknown, The Faces of Man: Photo Set Nine

“One solitary tear crept through the scars of his face, through the diagrams of constellations and the incised maps of influence and dominion. A liquid without a name, it being made of so many emotions and conflicts, each cancelling the other out until only salt and gravity filled the moment and moved down through his expression.” 

—-Brian Catling, The Vorrh

Arthur O’Shaughnessy: “We Are the Dreamers of Dreams”

Photographer Unknown, (Dreamers of Dreams)

“We are the music-makers,

And we are the dreamers of dreams,

Wandering by lone sea-breakers,

And sitting by desolate streams.

World-losers and world-forsakers,

Upon whom the pale moon gleams;

Yet we are the movers and shakers,

Of the world forever, it seems.” 

—Arthur O’Shaughnessy, Ode, Poems of Arthur O’Shaughnessy

Arthur William Edgar O’Shaughnessy was a British poet, born in March of 1844 in London to Irish parents. In June, 1861, he became a transcriber in the library of the British Museum, reportedly through the influence of English writer and politician Sir Edward Lytton. Two years later, O’Shaughnessy became a herpetologist in the museum’s zoological department. 

Always having a true passion for literature, O’Shaughnessy published his first collection of poetry “Epic of Women” in 1870, followed in 1872 by the poetry collection “Lays of France”.  In 1873 he married, at the age of thirty, Eleanor Marston, the daughter of author John Westland Marston. After the 1874 publishing of “Music and Moonlight”, his third poetry collection, O’Shaughnessy and his wife wrote and published a volume of children stories entitled “Toyland” in 1875. 

After the publishing of “Toyland”, O’Shaughnessy did not produce any more volumes of poetry during the rest of his life. His last collection of poetry ,“Songs of a Worker”, was published posthumously in 1881. Both of the children of the marriage died in infancy; his wife Eleanor died in 1879. Arthur O’Shaughnessy died in London on January 30, 1881, at the age of thirty-seven from a fever. He is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London.

Arthur O’Shaughnessy was strongly influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite artists and writers, among whom were his friends, painter and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti and novelist Ford Madox Brown. He was also influenced by the contemporary French poetry translations of Paul Verlaine, the poetry of Sully Prudhomme, and the works of Algarnon Charles Swinburne, known for the use of alliteration in his verse.

Known for his much anthologized poem “Ode”, Arthur O’Shaughnessy is chiefly remembered for his later transcendental work that was influenced by the French Symbolist movement. His “Epic of Women”, with its poems using repetitive initial consonant sounds and rhythmic pace, is considered by many to be his best work.

Image reblogged with thanks to https://thouartadeadthing.tumblr.com

Be Creative

Photographer Unknown, (Be Creative)

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”

—-Jim Jarmusch, MovieMaker Magazine #53-Winter, January 22, 2004

Image reblogged with many thanks to: https://theskywaspunk.tumblr.com

Joseph Campbell: “The Love of Your Fate”

Photographer Unknown, (The Love of Your Fate)

“Nietzsche was the one who did the job for me. At a certain moment in his life, the idea came to him of what he called ‘the love of your fate.’ Whatever your fate is, whatever the hell happens, you say, ‘This is what I need.’ It may look like a wreck, but go at it as though it were an opportunity, a challenge. If you bring love to that moment–not discouragement–you will find the strength is there. Any disaster you can survive is an improvement in your character, your stature, and your life. What a privilege! This is when the spontaneity of your own nature will have a chance to flow.

Then, when looking back at your life, you will see that the moments which seemed to be great failures followed by wreckage were the incidents that shaped the life you have now. You’ll see that this is really true. Nothing can happen to you that is not positive. Even though it looks and feels at the moment like a negative crisis, it is not. The crisis throws you back, and when you are required to exhibit strength, it comes.” 

—-Joseph Campbell, A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living

A. A. Milne: “. . .Caught Up by a Little Eddy”

 

Photographer Unknown, (Caught Up by a Little Eddy)

“And out floated Eeyore.

“Eeyore!” cried everybody.

Looking very calm, very dignified, with his legs in the air, came Eeyore from beneath the bridge.

“It’s Eeyore!” cried Roo, terribly excited.

“Is that so?” said Eeyore, getting caught up by a little eddy, and turning slowly round three times. “I wondered. . . .”

—-A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

William Gay: “An Infinite Number of Lives”

Photographers Unknown, (An Infinite Number of Lives)

“Down fabled roads reverting now to woods Winer felt himself imprisoned by the dark beyond the carlights and by the compulsive timbre of Motormouth’s voice, a drone obsessed with spewing out words without regard for truth or even for coherence, as if he must spit out vast quantities of them and rearrange them for his liking, step back, and admire the various patterns he could construct: these old tales of love and betrayal had no truth beyond his retelling of them, for each retelling shaped his past, made him immortal, gave him an infinite number of lives.”
William Gay, The Long Home

John Steinbeck: “A Trip Takes Us”

Photographers Unknown, A Collection: A Trip Takes Us

“When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job. Nothing has worked. Four hoarse blasts of a ships’s whistle still raise the hair on my neck and set my feet to tapping. The sound of a jet, an engine warming up, even the clopping of shod hooves on pavement brings on the ancient shudder, the dry mouth and vacant eye, the hot palms and the churn of stomach high up under the rib cage. In other words, once a bum always a bum. I fear this disease incurable. 

I set this matter down not to instruct others but to inform myself….A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we not take a trip; a trip takes us.” 

—-John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

Steven Millhauser: “His Black and White World”

Photographers Unknown, A Collection of Black and White: The Dark Images

“He sank back into his black-and-white world, his immobile world of inanimate drawings that had been granted the secret of motion, his death-world with its hidden gift of life. But that life was a deeply ambiguous life, a conjurer’s trick, a crafty illusion based on an accidental property of the retina, which retained an image for a fraction of a second after the image was no longer present. On this frail fact was erected the entire structure of the cinema, that colossal confidence game. The animated cartoon was a far more honest expression of the cinematic illusion than the so-called realistic film, because the cartoon reveled in its own illusory nature, exulted in the impossible–indeed it claimed the impossible as its own, exalted it as its own highest end, found in impossibility, in the negation of the actual, its profoundest reason for being. The animated cartoon was nothing but the poetry of the impossible–therein lay its exhilaration and its secret melancholy. For this willful violation of the actual, while it was an intoxicating release from the constriction of things, was at the same time nothing but a delusion, an attempt to outwit mortality. As such it was doomed to failure. And yet it was desperately important to smash through the constriction of the actual, to unhinge the universe and let the impossible stream in, because otherwise–well, otherwise the world was nothing but an editorial cartoon.” 

—Steven Millhauser, Little Kingdoms

Ray Bradbury: “Something Wicked This Way Comes”

Photographer Unknown, (Leather, Beetle, and Snake), Photo Shoot, Model Unknown

“The stuff of nightmare is their plain bread. They butter it with pain. They set their clocks by deathwatch beetles, and thrive the centuries. They were the men with the leather-ribbon whips who sweated up the Pyramids seasoning it with other people’s salt and other people’s cracked hearts. They coursed Europe on the White Horses of the Plague. They whispered to Caesar that he was mortal, then sold daggers at half-price in the grand March sale. Some must have been lazing clowns, foot props for emperors, princes, and epileptic popes. Then out on the road, Gypsies in time, their populations grew as the world grew, spread, and there was more delicious variety of pain to thrive on. The train put wheels under them and here they run down the log road out of the Gothic and baroque; look at their wagons and coaches, the carving like medieval shrines, all of it stuff once drawn by horses, mules, or, maybe, men.”

—Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes

James Baldwin: “Giovanni’s Room”

Photographers Unknown, The Faces of Man: WP Photo Set Eight

“For I am—or I was—one of those people who pride themselves in on their willpower, on their ability to make a decision and carry it through. This virtue, like most virtues, is ambiguity itself. People who believe that they are strong-willed and the masters of their destiny can only continue to believe this by becoming specialists in self-deception. Their decisions are not really decisions at all—a real decision makes one humble, one knows that it is at the mercy of more things than can be named—but elaborate systems of evasion, of illusion, designed to make themselves and the world appear to be what they and the world are not. This is certainly what my decision, made so long ago in Joey’s bed, came to. I had decided to allow no room in the universe for something which shamed and frightened me. I succeeded very well—by not looking at the universe, by not looking at myself, by remaining, in effect, in constant motion.” 

—James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room

China Miéville: “I Have Danced with the Spider”

Photographer Unknown, (I Have Danced with the Spider)

“Its substance was known to me. The crawling infinity of colours, the chaos of textures that went into each strand of that eternally complex tapestry…each one resonated under the step of the dancing mad god, vibrating and sending little echoes of bravery, or hunger, or architecture, or argument, or cabbage or murder or concrete across the aether. The weft of starlings’ motivations connected to the thick, sticky strand of a young thief’s laugh. The fibres stretched taut and glued themselves solidly to a third line, its silk made from the angles of seven flying buttresses to a cathedral roof. The plait disappeared into the enormity of possible spaces.

Every intention, interaction, motivation, every colour, every body, every action and reaction, every piece of physical reality and the thoughts that it engendered, every connection made, every nuanced moment of history and potentiality, every toothache and flagstone, every emotion and birth and banknote, every possible thing ever is woven into that limitless, sprawling web.

It is without beginning or end. It is complex to a degree that humbles the mind. It is a work of such beauty that my soul wept…

..I have danced with the spider. I have cut a caper with the dancing mad god.”

–China Miéville, Perdido Street Station